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Bethlehem police release annual report

The Town of Bethlehem Police Department has released its annual report for the year 2008, which officials say reflects a fairly typical year for the department statistically.

The department has been compiling annual reports since the '80s and keeping track of records electronically since the early '90s.

The department's budget in 2008 was $6.8 million, an approximately $170,000 increase from the previous year's budget. The 2009 budgetwhich was adjusted mid-yearended up at about $6.9 million and the 2010 adopted budget is $7.2 million.

The vast majority of these expenses went towards personnel.

The report offers a brief overview of the structure of the department as well as biographical information on department and division leadership.

One area of operations that saw a marked increase from previous years was in the Detective Office, whose four detectives investigate major offenses and unattended deaths. In 2008, detectives attended to 553 cases, up from 393 in 2007 and 280 in 2006.

The largest increases were in the categories of assault (from three to 31), weapons offenses (two to 14), larceny (122 to 172), controlled substances (13 to 24) and fraudulent checks or business records (12 to 36). Activates in and the areas of criminal mischief and robbery dropped, though (from 33 to eight and 17 to five, respectively).

According to Deputy Chief Timothy Beebe, the number of cases handled by detectives does not represent an increase in the incidence of crimes, but rather the number of cases in which the assistance of a detective is needed.

Incidence figures are recorded and compiled for report to the state Division of Criminal Justice Services, and indicated that the total number of offenses in Bethlehem went down in 2008, from 2,773 to 2,594.

The department's patrol division, the largest and most visible arm of the organization, saw small increases in some categories and decreases in others. Patrol conducted 8,320 traffic stops in 2008, down from 8,787 the previous year, but also made slightly more arrests for DWI, violations, misdemeanors and felonies.

The full report is available at the police department's Web site: www.townofbethlehem.org/pages/police/police.asp.

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